Goomeri is a town situated at the junction of the Burnett and Wide Bay Highways about 235kms from Brisbane and about 78kms from Gympie. It has a population of about 600 and the name Goomeri, (pronounced goo-mary), is supposedly derived from an Aboriginal word meaning “broken shield”.
The Kingfishers chapter of the CMCA (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia) planned an event to attend the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival, which is held on the last Sunday of May every year. Our vans all rolled up well before the festival began and the Recreation Grounds looked like a huge camping ground. About 100 of the vehicles were with our group but there were many more in attendance as well and they spilled over to the showgrounds when the Rec Grounds filled up.
View from Policeman’s Hill to the camp ground
Brutus and I arrived on Thursday afternoon before the Festival and I was lucky enough to get a park fairly close to the facilities so I didn’t need to set up my Porta-loo, even though I was all prepared to do so. If you read my post about Green Frog Country, you’ll probably wonder if I made the right decision!
June and Marilyn, who I had met at the Biggenden Solos Rally were already there but this time Marilyn had bought a little Suzuki that she was towing behind her motorhome so we were lucky enough to get out and about to some of the local sights before the main event on Sunday. So on Friday we set off to Murgon, about 20kms away and went directly to the Information Centre where it was recommended that we go to the Queensland Dairy & Heritage Museum.
Absolutely fascinating, and the lady who showed us around was an enthusiastic guide and a wealth of information about the old machinery, historic buildings and the history of the area.
When we left the Dairy Museum we drove up to the Apex Park (which is a free camp), and which had spectacular views across the valley.
June with Amber, her dog, and Marilyn
It was surrounded by fields of Duboisia – a shrubby crop that is used in the production of medications for the treatment of motion sickness, stomach ulcers and stomach cramp. It is also used as a pre-operative smooth muscle relaxant, administered to patients prior to surgery.
The Aborigines are said to have thrown the crushed leaves into fish ponds, The drug released would affect the central nervous system of the fish, they’d lose their ability to swim and float to the surface.
In World War 2 it was used as an antidote against enemy chemical gases.
Terraces ready for Duboisia planting
A special plant: Duboisia bush
In the search for a safe and effective treatment for stomach pain, Boehringer Ingelheim, the makers of Buscopan®, learnt from the healing arts of some of the world’s oldest cultures. The Aborigines of Australia used Duboisia to relieve stomach pain.
The active ingredient is extracted from the leaves of an Australian native tree, known as the Corkwood tree or Duboisia. Boehringer Ingelheim delivers 90% of the global requirement of the ingredient. Using sophisticated and environmentally-friendly farming methods, farmers in Australia and South America grow and harvest the small rainforest trees. The dried leaves are used to create the high-quality pharmaceutical product.
The South Burnett area produces about 95% of the world’s requirements of Duboisia, which requires well-drained red volcanic soil.
We then drove up a really steep hill to Boat Mountain. Several of the access roads are still closed off from the flood damage in January this year. Warning: definitely not accessible by motorhomes at any time of the year! Boat Mountain got it’s name because it looks like an upturned boat and was the source of timber in Murgon’s earliest days. Teamsters would haul the timber from the mountain side down to the town.
Our next day’s adventure was to head to the wineries, and there were plenty to choose from. We visited 3 of them and typically enjoyed the wines at the first one best! Our first stop was Moffatdale Ridge and I couldn’t resist buying a bottle of liquer style wine made from Cognac and Walnuts – yum! From there we went to the award winning Clovely Estate.
Clovely Estate Cellar Door
The cellar door was very busy and we didn’t find it nearly as welcoming as Moffatdale Ridge and hence didn’t enjoy the wines as much – amazing how atmosphere influences your taste buds. Our last stop, and where we had lunch, was Dusty Hills Winery and Tavern. I had a great Seafood Chowder and enjoyed every mouthful. The tavern was set up like a mountain lodge, loaded with atmosphere and obviously very popular with locals and visitors alike.
Tavern at Dusty Hills winery
On the way back to Goomeri we stopped at the Bjelke Peterson Dam.
At Bjelke Peterson Dam – with Marilyn
The Bjelke-Petersen Dam, or Lake Barambah as its also commonly known, is situated fifteen kilometres from Murgon in the beautiful region of South Burnett. Although the dam is primarily used for irrigation and water supply to surrounding towns, it has become a huge tourist attraction, holiday destination and hub for numerous water sports and activities. The dam covers about 2500 hectares of land and holds over a million mega litres of water. Complete with car park, boat ramp, numerous picnic and BBQ areas, a never ending supply of nature and wildlife, this is the ideal place for a family picnic, day trip, weekend break or holiday. There is something here for everybody. The biggest event of the year takes palce during the first weekend in October every year. Fishermen from all over Queensland come together to compete in the biggest fishing competition of the year. Attracting huge crowds, and creating an even bigger atmosphere its no wonder this one is not to be missed.
The Bjelke-Petersen Dam is well stocked with a wide variety of fish. You will find everything from Golden Perch and Silver Perch to Sartoga and Australian Basscan. Large quantities of Tandan’s, or more commonly known as Eel Tailed Catfish, have also been found in these waters. In recent years, as a result of their illegal introduction, Sleepy Cod and Redclays Crayfish have been fished here.
All this and the Pumpkin Festival doesn’t start until tomorrow!
The sleepy town of 600 grew by thousands, dozens of market stalls set up in the parks, and roads were fenced off for the great Pumpkin Roll down Policeman’s Hill.
My favourite display was by Guy McLean, a horseman from Susan River, who worked his 5 horses in a small arena to a very appreciative crowd. He had the gift of the gab and was really entertaining and managed to demonstrate not only his amazing horse skills but the personalities of each horse too.
Guy McLean – Champion Horseman
Pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin scones – and of course the Great Pumpkin Roll. It was a lot of fun – crazy – Pumpkin Shot Put, Pumpkin Bowls, pumpkin everything!
Camel rides at Goomeri Pumpkin Festival
The Great Pumpkin Roll down Policeman’s Hill
We packed up on Monday and headed off for a quiet night at Kilkivan (pronounced Kill-keevan) Bush Camping Ground. What a lovely spot – beautiful setting, good facilities and reasonably priced. I’m looking forward to going back for a few days solitude and wonderful clean fresh air. A group of Apostle birds made themselves at home in the remnants of the campfire, no doubt looking for some tasty morsels. I’m glad I had my bird book with me, and with Marilyn’s help, was able to identify the birds…. I have to tell you that Marilyn didn’t need the bird book, she just knew!
Another wonderful few days with fantastic people. Can’t wait for my next adventure!